Do not trust websites stating that your personal data might be exposed

Also Known As: IP address & personal information might be exposed pop-up
Damage level: Medium

What is the "IP address & personal information might be exposed" scam?

"IP address & personal information might be exposed" is a scam promoted on various untrustworthy websites. This scheme aims to promote a piece of (likely dubious) software by claiming that users' IP (Internet Protocol) addresses and personal data may be exposed and vulnerable.

In seldom cases, such scams endorse legitimate products and generate revenue through deceptive and questionable tactics. However, they more commonly distribute adware, browser hijackers, fake anti-viruses, and other PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications). It is noteworthy that online schemes may even proliferate malware.

Scam-promoting sites are usually accessed inadvertently; most users enter them via mistyped URLs, or redirects caused by rogue webpages, intrusive advertisements, or installed PUAs. This software can infiltrate systems without explicit user permission, and it often has harmful abilities.

IP address & personal information might be exposed scam

"IP address & personal information might be exposed" scam in detail

As its name suggests, the "IP address & personal information might be exposed" scam states that the user's geolocation (IP address) and other private and sensitive data may be unprotected. It then lists the following information about the user: geolocation, IP address, ISP (Internet Service Provider), browser, and "status".

The scheme emphasizes that anyone can access this information and check the user's browsing activity. The scam urges to download the "number one" VPN (Virtual Private Network) application to browse safely and anonymously. The scheme also guarantees that there is a thirty-day refund window for the recommended software.

As mentioned in the introduction, schemes of this type are typically used to spread untrustworthy and malicious software. Therefore, by trusting the "IP address & personal information might be exposed" scam, users can experience system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

How do potentially unwanted applications operate?

PUAs tend to appear legitimate and harmless. These applications promise "useful" features, which are seldom operational. Fake anti-virus tools are a prime example of this. Apps of this type require activation (i.e., purchase) to perform the advertised functions, yet following activation - they remain nonoperational.

Other PUAs can force-open rogue, scam, and malicious sites (e.g., ones running the "IP address & personal information might be exposed" scam). Adware-types deliver intrusive advertisement campaigns. Once clicked on, the delivered ads redirect to unreliable/dangerous websites, and some can stealthily download/install software.

Browser hijackers are another type of PUAs. They operate by making modifications to browser settings to promote (by causing redirects to) fake search engines. The promoted web searchers typically cannot provide search results, so they redirect to Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other genuine search engines.

What is more, most PUAs have data tracking abilities. Information of interest includes: URLs visited, webpages viewed, search queries typed, IP addresses/ geolocations, personally identifiable details, and so forth. The gathered data is then shared with and/or sold to third-parties (potentially, cyber criminals).

The presence of unwanted software on systems - endangers device integrity and user safety. Therefore, it is strongly advised to remove all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name IP address & personal information might be exposed pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam claims that users' personal information might be exposed and urges to download/install the promoted VPN
Related Domains user-shield-check[.]com
Symptoms Fake error messages, fake system warnings, pop-up errors, hoax computer scan.
Distribution methods Compromised websites, rogue online pop-up ads, potentially unwanted applications.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Online scams in general

"Access to this pc has been blocked for security reasons", "CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE THE VISITOR NO. 1.000.000", "Win The New iPhone 12", "Your Chrome is severely damaged by 13 Malware!" - are some examples of various online scams. The Internet is rife with misleading, deceptive, and malicious content.

Popular scam models include: alerts about a software product being outdated or missing, warnings that the device is infected or at risk, fake lotteries and prize giveaways, unbelievable offers and deals, etc. Due to how widespread such schemes are on the Web, it is highly recommended to exercise caution when browsing.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

PUAs can have "official" promotional/download webpages, which are often pushed by deceptive/scam sites. Intrusive advertisements are used to proliferate these applications as well. Once clicked on, the ads can execute scripts to make downloads/installations without user consent.

PUAs can also be downloaded/installed together with other software. This false marketing method of pre-packing regular programs with unwanted or malicious additions - is called "bundling". Rushed downloads/installations (e.g., skipped steps and sections, etc.) increase the risk of allowing bundled content into the device.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is important to research software before download/installation and/or purchase. Additionally, all downloads must be performed from official and verified sources. Dubious channels, e.g., Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, unofficial and freeware websites, and other third-party downloaders - can offer bundled and hazardous content.

When downloading/installing, it is advised to read terms, study available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings to opt-out from supplementary apps, tools, and other additions. Intrusive adverts appear ordinary and harmless; however, they redirect to questionable sites (e.g., gambling, adult-dating, pornography, etc.).

In case of encounters with such ads and/or redirects, the device must be inspected and all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - removed from it without delay. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

Text presented in the "IP address & personal information might be exposed" scam:

Your connection might not be secure


Your IP address & personal information might be exposed!
Get the #1 trusted VPN to browse securely and anonymously
Get a VPN


Your location: ********
Your IP: ********
Your ISP: ********
Your Browser: Chrome


Without using a VPN, ANYONE can see where you are browsing.
Browse securely and anonymously - It's safe and offers 30 days money-back guarantee!


[Later] [Get a VPN]

The appearance of "IP address & personal information might be exposed" pop-up scam (GIF):

Appearance of IP address & personal information might be exposed scam

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Quick menu:

How to identify a pop-up scam?

Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.

While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.

Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:

  • Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
  • Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
  • Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
  • Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
  • Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.

Example of a pop-up scam:

Example of a pop-up scam

How do pop-up scams work?

Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.

Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.

How to remove fake pop-ups?

In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.

In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.

How to prevent fake pop-ups?

To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.

To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?

This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.

  • If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
  • If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
  • If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
  • Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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